The Inquirer (Monrovia)

9 October 2012

Liberia: Actg. Chief Justice Stresses Restoration of Confidence

Acting Chief Justice, Francis Korkpor Sr. has vowed to restore public confidence in the Liberian judicial system. Speaking at the opening of the October term of court for the Supreme Court of Liberia on Monday, Justice Korkpor said to cope with the myriad problems and challenges still facing the Judiciary, multiple priorities must be set.

Justice Korkpor noted that one of the key challenges facing the judicial system is the restoration of full public confidence in the Judiciary as the custodian of the rights of the people.

"It is no secret that the public still looks at the Judiciary with skepticism as to whether it can truly dispense justice to all, irrespective of status, color, or sex without fear or favor. Public perception is that most often justice is given to the rich and powerful in our country," Acting Chief Justice, Francis Korkpor Sr. stated.

"We must allay whatever fear and apprehension the public might have of the courts by rededicating ourselves to the work at hand. And the work at hand is to promptly hear and impartially decide cases on the dockets of the courts," Justice Korkpor Sr. continued.

"In order to ensure effective control and coordination of the activities of all courts throughout the country, we are strengthening the office of the Court Administrator and have already authorized the reintroduction of periodic visits by that office to all courts. Through the visits, we expect to receive firsthand information on our courts, including their physical structure, personnel, case loads and other specific problems affecting each court," he stated further.

Making his first address as Acting Chief Justice, he acknowledged that judges at home and abroad need to be trained to cope with the dynamics of the law. He added that clerical staff; court reporters and, stenographers, bailiffs and constables need also to be trained. "We need to modernize the record taking and record keeping systems of the courts of records," he emphasized.

"Rules applicable to our courts need to be revised to suit present realities, and we need to pay better salaries and incentives to attract the very best, so as not to settle for mediocre performance," Acting Justice Korkpor stated.

"Our review of the final budget passed into law shows that the Judiciary is allotted less than 2% of the entire national budget. At a time when our people are increasingly crying and craving for greater justice, and at a time when reports of our international partners continue to point to a bleak and gloomy picture of the entire Judiciary, the planners of the National Budget must show greater appreciation for the problems facing the Judiciary," he averred.

The October Term of Court for the Supreme Court of Liberia trial docket has 190 cases and 48 cases on its motion calendar.

The Liberian courts have been accused of not seeking the welfare of the average citizens something that the Acting Chief Justice Francis Korkpor Sr. has admitted to. He expressed confidence that such ideology can be changed and the law of the land can stand for anyone irrespective of status, color, or sex without fear or favor.

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